TORONTO — Mariners pitcher James Paxton threw a no-hitter to lead Seattle to a 5-0 shutout of the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The product of Ladner, B.C., became the first Canadian to pitch a Major League Baseball no-hitter in his home country.
Here are five things to know about Paxton’s feat.
73 YEARS IN THE MAKING — Paxton is the second Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Major League Baseball history. The first was Toronto’s Dick Fowler, who led the Philadelphia Athletics to a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Browns at Shibe Park on Sept. 9, 1945. It was Fowler’s first game in three years after serving with the Canadian Army during the Second World War. He pitched for the Athletics until 1952, amassing a 66-79 record with a 4.11 earned-run average and 382 strikeouts.
CLOSE BUT PAS DE CIGAR — Between Fowler’s no-hitter in 1945 and Paxton’s on Tuesday other Canadian pitchers have come close to going nine innings without giving up a hit. Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., went 6 1/3 innings for the Houston Astros without giving up a hit on July 21, 2013. He pulled himself out of the game because he was getting sore and didn’t want to damage his career.
DOMINANCE IS A HABIT — Paxton had 16 strikeouts over seven innings in his previous start, a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics that the Mariners went on to lose 3-2 on May 2. He became only the eighth pitcher in MLB history to have more than 16 strikeouts in a game and then record a no-hitter in the same season, joining elite company that includes Max Scherzer (2015), Nolan Ryan (1991 and 1974) and Sandy Koufax (1962).
HEART ON HIS SLEEVE — Immediately after getting Blue Jays all-star Josh Donaldson to groundout to third base for the final out of the game Paxton tapped his elbow as part of the celebration. The pitcher — who is nicknamed “The Big Maple” — has a Maple Leaf tattooed on his forearm, with a mural of an island that his family has a cabin on. “It’s a special thing for me, having not lived in Canada for the past 10 years, it just reminds me of home,” said Paxton after the win.
ALMOST A BLUE JAY — Paxton was drafted out of the University of Kentucky by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009, 37th overall. However, negotiations went poorly, with the two sides unable to agree on a signing bonus. Paxton was represented by Scott Boras in the talks and, at one point, Blue Jays officials referred to Boras as Paxton’s “agent” when, as a collegiate player, he could only have an “adviser.” That cost Paxton his final year of NCAA eligibility and he ended up having to play for an independent league team before the Mariners drafted him in 2010.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press